I’m a big fan of open source software as well as freeware, but one of the problems these applications often have is lack of documentation and tutorials. It can be frustrating enough to try to wing it with a new, free software application that many people will just throw their hands in the air and give up. That’s a shame.
In this post, I’ll cover some solid, free tutorials for excellent free software titles. If you quickly download them and walk through these primers, you’ll be good to go.
On the OStatic blog, I just covered Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference, which is a book you can buy at Amazon for just under $10, but it’s also available as a free download here. It’s a really excellent, thorough guide to getting going with one of the most popular and flexible Linux distributions. If you’re curious about Ubuntu or already running it, you’ll find much to like in the book, which is written by serial Linux author Keir Thomas. Many web workers can greatly expand the arsenal of good applications available to them by delving into Linux, and this is a good, free way to get started.
In this post, you’ll find a number of good tutorial resources for GIMP, which is the widely used open source graphics program that originated at UC Berkeley. Also from the Free Books Department, there is a discussion of Grokking the GIMP there. Grokking the GIMP is a free online book, and you can check out how exhaustive the tutorials are here in the Table of Contents. If you work with graphics at all, it will cost you nothing to get up to speed with one of the most widely used open source applications. GIMP is available for the Mac, Windows and Linux.
Finally, I’ve written before about IrfanView, a really great, lightweight Windows graphics program, which I use every day. IrfanView runs deeper than it appears to upon first glance, and it’s light on documentation. For a quick walkthrough of most of the basic features, try Millenium’s IrfanView tutorial. Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll quickly move on to advanced tasks that IrfanView is good at, such as batch image processing.